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CG United Ja goes niche to grow after takeover of Massy Insurance

With regulatory approval in hand since September, the Jamaica arm of CG United Insurance is looking to build its name recognition amid plans to grow its insurance business by at least one-tenth within the next year.

The general insurer entered the market through the acquisition of Massy Holdings’ regional insurance business, including the operations in Jamaica.

The US$90-million regional deal spanning multiple countries was struck in September 2021 and closed in May of this year. CG United Jamaica got its final approval from the Financial Services Commission, FSC, to operate locally, four months later.

Winsome Gibbs, who ran Massy United Jamaica prior to the takeover, remains as country manager of CG’s local operation. CG United also retained the company’s small workforce, she said.

Despite industry reports of a difficult period ahead for the insurance sector, Gibbs said CG United is looking to grow its gross written premium, or GWP — the lifeblood of insurance business — by 10 to 15 per cent in 2023, mainly through niche products. Instead of primarily targeting business in motor and property insurance, CG United will be selling coverage to professionals and offering specialised insurance for commerce.

“We offer all general insurance products, including property, motor liability, but we have gone mostly for the engineering classes, such as contractor’s all risk, marine and professional indemnity. Those are our niche products,” Gibbs said in an interview with the Financial Gleaner.

To drive GWP growth, Gibbs has been adding staff and going after more business since late 2021. The original Massy United Insurance started with a staff of three in 2018, doubling to six just before the takeover announcement, and jumping to 10, with the prospect for an even further increase under CG United’s control.

Gibbs is not definitive on the numbers, but says CG United Jamaica closed the 2021 financial year with just over $1 billion in assets. The company continued to operate as Massy Insurance in the interregnum between the September 2021 commencement of acquisition and the September 2022 greenlight from Jamaican regulator, she said.

Gibbs said CG United is a 60-year-old company, with a regional presence similar to the acquired Massy Insurance. CG United Insurance is a member of the Coralisle Group, which is headquartered in Bermuda and now does business in 20 Caribbean territories.

“The brand CG is new to Jamaica. They were in a lot of other territories, but never in Jamaica. This acquisition of Massy added Jamaica to the pool of countries that they were involved in regionally,” she said, adding that CG needed regulatory approval in all the territories in which Massy previously wrote business.

CG United, as a regional entity, offers life, health and general insurance in several markets. To offer its full suite of services in the Jamaican market, CG United would need separate licences for life and general insurance. Gibbs says, for now, the company would concentrate on offering just general insurance.

Before the purchase, CG United operated in Bermuda, The Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Barbados and the Cayman Islands. The acquisition added 14 new markets, including Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Belize, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Gibbs is a 30-year veteran of the general insurance industry in Jamaica. She spent 13 years with GK General Insurance before joining Massy in 2017. She also worked with ICWI as well as Globe Insurance, which now operates as Guardian General.

As head of Massey United Jamaica, Gibbs had operational responsibility of the company’s Cayman market from her New Kingston offices on the PanJam building. That has changed under the new ownership. She no longer has operational responsibility for Cayman, but assists by way of oversight for some aspects of the business.

The general insurance market, which has about 10 companies in operation, was last valued at $120 billion by assets in June, according to FSC industry data. That would give CG United less than one per cent share of the market.

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